After being a licensed REALTOR® since 1983, you'd think I'd become used to certain aspects of the business. But it's always exciting to work with first-time buyers and find them the first property they'll ever own, be it a mobile home, condo, townhouse or single family residence.
I just had a closing for La Grange real estate and this was the first home for my buyers. They were such a pleasure to work with. I was able to find them the best home in their price range.
What made everything enjoyable was that we communicated well. Their expectations were reasonable for the market. They used my favorite mortgage company/loan officer. They provided the mortgage company with all documents needed in a timely manner.
We even had a last minute glitch during the final walk-through. An item was missing that should have been there and a leak was found in the basement from a crack in the wall that was not visible during the home inspection. We ironed everything out at the closing.
Here are some things that can make purchasing nerve wracking:
1. Too high expectations for your price range. Sometimes you cannot start with your dream house, but need to work up to it.
2. Lowball offers - Even in a buyer's market, most sellers will wait for a reasonable offer. We're all getting adjusted to the buyer's market and most southwest suburbs are seeing price appreciations even with less sales than the year before.
3. Turning negotiations "personal," or making it a game you want to win. If this is the perfect home for you now, don't play emotional games. If you feel the seller's price is too high you might need to walk away. If it's priced at market value and you want the property, you might have to pay more than what you originally offered.
4. A bad inspection - I've seen bad inspectors scare buyers about common wear and tear. Good inspectors will explain what normal wear and tear should be. Another meaning for a bad inspection is that there is one or more major components that are not working and the seller refuses to make repairs. You have to make the decision to make the repair(s) or move on.
5. Not understanding the inspection clause in the real estate contract. In the southwest suburbs our contract stipulates that the item must be a major component (with a list of what that encompasses) and that the item must be broken or cause a health hazard in order for the buyer to ask the seller to fix it. Not only do buyers not fully understand this clause, but many agents do not, either.
6. Once a contract is accepted, the earnest money needs to be delivered. There have been earnest money checks that have bounced. This should not happen.
7. Using a questionable mortgage broker - you need to use a reputable mortgage provider. Ask your agent if you don't know one.
8. You need to get your mortgage application finished up asap. There is a time frame in the contract that needs to be abided by.
9. One of the biggest reasons we have problems with the mortgage is that the buyer did not deliver required documents. A good loan officer will try to get all needed documents at the time of application. However, depending on your situation, more documents might be needed later on. You need to get these to the mortgage company as soon as they are requested.
10. Giving information that cannot be substantiated. A lot of hold-ups are due to inaccurate credit, employment and earnings information. Sometimes buyers forget that child support payments are an expense that should have been disclosed. Some buyers forget about a past judgment or other credit issues.
11. Not hiring an attorney. Problems that might arise can sometimes be expedited by using a real estate attorney. In northern IL title agents do not have the time to sit with buyers to explain everything at the closing and your real estate agent cannot do this for you. If you don't know a good real estate attorney your agent should provide you with name of one.
12. There are sometimes things that come up during the final walk-through that can cause problems, like what I mentioned above. When you find something right before the closing, it can cause an issue, especially with an unreasonable seller. Again, you have to accept the problem or stand firm and refuse to close until the seller takes care of the issue.
An item you really can't control is a low appraisal. Even if you and everyone else in the transaction felt the selling price was correct, an appraiser is a human being and if they don't agree and come up with a low appraisal that affects your financing, then the transaction is "back to the negotiation table."
Another issue I come across a lot is a less than stellar real estate agent. If you've written up your purchase contract with one agent you cannot switch to someone else if you become unhappy with your current agent. This is where a good real estate attorney can help. I hear many clients complain that their agent did not communicate once the contract was accepted. Keep in mind, at this point there is a waiting period where the selling agent does not have much control over. The appraisal is set up through the listing agent. Some mortgage companies will not give real estate agents any information.
One problem that is difficult to control is the listing agent. Sometimes they take their time in presenting your offer even if your agent did everything correctly. Sometimes they do not communicate with your agent in a timely manner. This is very frustrating for any agent (either the selling or listing agent), when they cannot communicate with the other agent. However, if a contract has been accepted and the other agent is not communicating or cooperating, then the problem(s) can be taken to the attorneys.
There are some things you can't control, but for those that you can it can make your buying experience enjoyable, as it should be, or one of the most terrible experiences of your life. I just love being able to work with first-time buyers to try to make their purchase fun! If you're thinking of buying your first property in the southwest area of Chicago or southwest (and close west) suburbs give me a call at 708-536-8200 or contact me. Better yet, fill out the Automated Home Buyer's Form to get listings sent directly to your e-mail.